Licensed to practice law in both Florida and Ohio, she was a self-employed attorney from 1984 to 1991. Her career in Akron began in 1992 where through the Summit County Juvenile Court she Co-Coordinated the Guardian Ad Litem Program. From 1993 to 1994 Brenda was an Assistant Prosecutor serving in the Juvenile Division: from 1994-1997 she was an Assistant Prosecutor in the Criminal Division; from 1997 to 1998 a Magistrate in the Summit County Juvenile Court. She was appointed to a Municipal Court Judgeship (City of Akron) in 1997. In March of 1999 she became a Judge in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, where she presided until 2011.
Judge Unruh served on numerous Boards including the Knight Foundation, the Akron Bar Association, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, Family T.I.E.S., Project GRAD, Guardian Ad Litem, Community Based Correctional Facility, Akron Child Guidance Women's Board, Summit County Domestic Violence Task Force, Shelter Care and the Paul Tell Foundation. Brenda was also Past President of the Junior League of Akron.
Judge Brenda Burnham Unruh died March 13, 2011, at age 53.